$540M DOT project to improve NC's railway service
Posted November 20, 2013
Updated November 24, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Ken Aiman takes the Amtrak Carolinian No. 80 from Cary to Wilson every week for business.
"I get my laptop out, log on to my network and keep on working while I'm on the trip," he said.
He's not alone. More people seem to be taking the train these days.
North Carolina's state-supported Piedmont and Carolinian trains, the North Carolina Department of Transportation says, continue to be among the most rapidly growing in the Amtrak system, setting new ridership and revenue records.
Last year, ridership on the Piedmont service between Raleigh and Charlotte increased 4.7 percent, and revenue increased 8.1 percent, to more than $3.3 million.
Ridership on the Carolinian, which runs once a day between Charlotte and New York City, increased 3.6 percent, and revenue increased by 6.4 percent, to more than $19.8 million.
It's the fourth consecutive year of positive growth for both routes.
That's why the state is investing $540 million of federal funding – from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – in the Piedmont Improvement Program to expand and improve the rail corridor between Raleigh and Charlotte for passenger and freight trains.
Plans include adding two daily trips of the Piedmont service – bringing the total to five daily trips – and building 13 bridges at many railroad crossings to keep drivers and pedestrians safer.
The plan also calls for renovating train stations in Cary, High Point and Burlington and refurbishing and adding passenger rail cars to the fleet.
It also will add 28 miles of track between Greensboro and Charlotte to help trains pass each other and stay on time and will close 23 potentially dangerous railroad crossings.
Currently, projects are underway at Hopson Road in Durham and in Salisbury. Additional projects are set to begin in 2014 and 2015, with a completion date in early 2017.
Passengers like Aiman say more service would be great – anything to avoid a road trip.
"(The train) is much more comfortable," he said.